Call to consider tourism volumes [The News, 18/01/20]
Tourist numbers in Wanaka could become overwhelming in the decade ahead, the Wanaka Stakeholders Group says.
Deputy chairman Mark Sinclair said the group was not against tourism, but as a community there was a decision to make about whether tourism in Wanaka was about volume or about quality of experience.
The group represented more than 3200 members and out of that hundreds if not thousands were involved in tourism either directly or indirectly, Mr Sinclair said.
Tourism had brought many positive benefits including better access to services but the town was reaching a crucial point and overtourism could become more of a problem.
‘‘If we supercharge tourism the impacts could far outweigh the benefits,’’ he said.
The affordability of accommodation was a challenge for some people.
‘‘Some workers who help keep our town running are forced to live in cars, live in campgrounds, or live however many people to a room,’’ Mr Sinclair said.
‘‘Is that the future we want for this location?’’
Even if expansion at Wanaka Airport did not take place, Wanaka was projected to double in size over the next 20 years, according to the Queenstown Lakes District Council.
‘‘Even without the airport being developed, we are still going to have infrastructure problems — we already do.’’
‘‘We need to decide as a community, are we about volume, are we about quality of experience, or something completely different?’’
QLDC media and channels adviser Jack Barlow said the district was one of the most popular visitor destinations in the country, providing a wealth of benefits, but challenges as well.
The council was taking a proactive approach on a range of programmes to ensure growth was managed in a sustainable fashion.